Agriculture, Land and Rural DevelopmentFAOCSDUNEP
World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002

SARD Initiative

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Key Milestones in the Development of the SARD Initiative

1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio). Identification of Nine Major Groups and adoption of Agenda 21 by governments. Agenda 21 includes Chapter 14 on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD).

Outcome: FAO was officially given the Task Manager responsibilities for SARD Chapter 14 of Agenda 21 in September 1993 by the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development, and has been reporting on its implementation since then. Agenda 21 designated nine sectors of society, known as Major Groups1, as critical for the development and implementation of policies for sustainable development. As stated in the preamble to the section on strengthening the role of Major Groups in Agenda 21:

"23.3. Any policies, definitions or rules affecting access to and participation by non-governmental organizations in the work of United Nations institutions or agencies associated with the implementation of Agenda 21 must apply equally to all major groups."

March 2000 - Commission on Sustainable Development, Eighth Session. A Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Land and Agriculture, focused on agricultural production techniques, consumption patterns, best practices in resources management, knowledge, trade issues and economic incentives in agriculture.

Outcome: FAO was mandated to continue the process of dialogue and consultation with the Major Groups in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) through the ECOSOC decision (Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Report on the Eighth session, 24 April-5 May 2000):

"46. As part of the ongoing review of progress towards SARD and within existing structures and resources, FAO and the Commission secretariat, in consultation with Governments, relevant international organizations and all major groups, are invited to continue the stakeholder dialogue on SARD, including facilitating the adequate and meaningful participation of stakeholders from developing countries. In preparing for the tenth session of the Commission and the 10-year review of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, this dialogue should emphasise the identification of specific examples and the development of case studies that illustrate or support the principles of SARD."

April 2001 - E-Conference and SARD forum. Following an E-Conference to assist with the drafting of the Task Manager report for CSD 10, a SARD Forum was held concurrently with the FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG), 16th Session, Rome. The SARD Forum's Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue centred on resources needed and enhancing partnerships for SARD involving Major Groups, regional representatives of the FAO NGO/CSO International Planning Committee (IPC) for the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl) and NGOs/CSOs through funding from the Government of the Netherlands. COAG agenda item 7 discussed a report entitled "The Place of Agriculture in Sustainable Development: The Way Forward on SARD" in plenary.

Outcome: The 16th Session of COAG (March 2001) supported the ECOSOC and CSD-8 decisions, as follows:

"49. The Committee agreed that, for this agenda item, representatives of major groups (NGOs, farmers, business, indigenous people, etc.) could speak along with Members, without this becoming a precedent. This agreement was in line with the request of the Eighth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8), which invited FAO to involve diverse stakeholders in the review of SARD in preparation for the Earth Summit in 2002 (Rio+10). Similarly, the Committee also welcomed the Multi-stakeholder Forum on SARD in preparation for Rio+10, which was taking place concurrently with COAG." (COAG Report on the 16th Session, 26 - 30 March 2001, Rome)

June 2001 FAO Council, 120th Session. The 120th Session of FAO Council reviewed the report of the 16th Session of COAG.

Outcome: FAO Council made the following comments and recommendations on the Organization's work on SARD:

"29 ...appreciated the widening of partnerships and expansion of dialogue to include, inter alia, non-governmental, civil society organizations and the private sector. The Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) that was held concurrently with the COAG session exemplified this broadening of dialogue. The Council endorsed FAO's role as "Task Manager" for those chapters of Agenda 21 that are under its leadership, and the proposal that SARD be a standing agenda item on the COAG Agenda every four years."

"32. called for continued support to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development and related programmes within FAO to enhance improved livelihoods for the rural poor in developing countries and the productivity of small-scale farming; also recognized that the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) contributed to SARD in meeting food security; proposed that SARD and related programmes should also address broader rural development issues such as agribusiness and entrepreneurship, capacity-building and strengthening rural institutions, water harvesting and natural resource management, better extension - research linkages, gender, increased civil society participation, market access, and rural infrastructure development and other services; recommended that FAO should address the impact of HIV-AIDS, along with other UN Agencies, within its mandate in the context of sustainable agriculture and rural development."

World Food Summit: Fyl (Rome, June 2002). A workshop and side event meetings at the NGO/CSO Forum and meetings of the IPC highlighted concerns of NGOs/CSOs about the World Summit on Sustainable Development process. Suggestions were made of possible messages to bring forward from the NGO/CSO Forum of the WFS:fyl to the WSSD. A Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue was held at the WFS:fyl.

Outcome: These events provided further insights on civil society priorities and have informed the design of the SARD Initiative. SARD International Mountains Conference (Adelboden, Switzerland, June 2002). The Conference involving Governments and NGOs/CSOs of mountain areas discussed Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development case studies related to Access to Resources, Fair Conditions of Employment in Agriculture and Good Practices in SARD, and the Roles and Tasks of Agriculture.

Outcome: Political support for the SARD Initiative through the Adelboden Declaration, which

"[s] on interested countries and other partners to support the SARD Initiative... being facilitated by FAO and to strengthen...[its] emphasis on SARD in mountains; to establish an Adelboden Group on SARD in mountains as a platform for discussion of policies and policy instruments, exchange of experience, and preparation of initiatives."

November 2001 - June 2002: Preparation for WSSD. In order to build a lasting and productive dialogue on several key SARD issues, as well as develop a framework for the SARD Initiative, representatives from the Major Groups and the FAO Task Manager for Chapter 14 held ongoing weekly/fortnightly conference calls, a virtual retreat consisting of three intensive conference calls to define terms of engagement, plan and implement side events, and conducted meetings concurrent with the FAO Conference and at the WSSD PrepComs. Other key milestones during the PrepComs include:

  • A Side Event during PrepCom II (31 January, 2002), entitled "Land, Food and Agriculture in Agenda 21: Assessing Issues of Land, Water, Food, and Agriculture to Reduce Poverty and Implement Sustainable Development," to assess progress, lessons learned, new challenges, and main constraints related to SARD. An important outcome of this meeting and other informal meetings during PrepCom II was the participation by and support received from interested Consumer and Media organizations.
  • Informative and consultative meetings during PrepComs III and IV (March-June, 2002) on the SARD Initiative. These meetings included the participation of NGOs, Governments and Inter-Governmental Organizations.
  • The Ministerial Roundtable on Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development held during PrepCom IV (June, 2002). A brief presentation on the SARD Initiative was made to Government delegates during this Roundtable.

Outcome: Access to resources, a global campaign on fair conditions of agricultural employment and Good practices for SARD were identified as initial areas of possible joint work. This Stakeholder coordination resulted in SARD receiving a more prominent place in the negotiated texts of WSSD. The SARD Initiative framework, as it currently stands, was designed and some Governments, Civil Society Organizations and Intergovernmental Organizations expressed interest in or provided inputs and support for the Initiative.


1The nine Major Groups are Farmers, NGOs, Indigenous peoples, Workers and Trade Unions, Business and Industry, Local Authorities, the Research and Technological Community, Women, and Youth.

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